“You’re as sick as your secrets”. – Anonymous
Getting no reply from her, pretty much confirmed everything. She’s running. I was baffled. It showed zero respect for me, the patient. In my time, we learned the meaning of ‘patient care’ and ‘healthcare’ and ‘accountability’ and ‘owning your mistakes’. I’m getting a feeling this is not what’s taught today.
Knowing all of the right side pain, swelling, redness, and heat is on the wrong side, I want it removed. Now. I’m worried the heat and redness could mean infection. This didn’t happen with the prior two surgeries. The pain was waking me up at night. I hadn’t even paid attention to much of the functionality yet, being so overwhelmed with the fact that it’s all on the wrong side. I desperately wanted someone to take care of my nose before it’s destroyed. Before this dead person’s cartilage adheres to my own. That was another thing. A lot of surgeons use your own rib or ear cartilage. She insisted on cadaver, which I didn’t like the idea of, but went through with it, because I trusted her technique. I cannot begin to explain the psychological trauma going on inside my head, from the wrong side surgery, then Roxana Moayer ghosting me. It was all too much.
In a panic, I reach out to Rod Hanner, CEO of USC Keck, via email on January 27, 2023, five weeks postop. I explain the situation, ask him to please have her communicate with me, explain what happened, and to also let me see another physician and get some imaging studies. He sends a standard, “I’m so sorry you’re going thru this. We’ll get it taken care of. Please reach out if not resolved”. Is he a man of his word?
Risk management called a couple days after to take a statement. I tell her it’s all outlined in the email to Hanner. I’m so drained from crying and processing what is actually happening, I was mostly quiet, waiting to hear a solution. She says she’ll get back to me. When I asked about seeing another USC physician and also getting some type of imaging, she assured me she’ll make it happen.
While waiting, I go through all documents in the portal. The Op Notes from every person in the OR differed. A tech’s report says IMPLANT – FACE. The anesthesiologist’s report says IMPLANT – NONE. Moayer’s report says IMPLANT – cadaveric cartilage. The report also states that she is the one who retrieved the cartilage from the freezer. Being the former transcriptionist and medical proofreader, it jumped out at me that all of her additions were lower cased and in certain reports, the alignment was off, some had left BOLDED throughout the report. I downloaded every version. If an editor or transcriptionist had typed this, that wouldn’t fly.
I reached out to several former coworkers still in the field, one in management, using the same medical records system. There is an audit trail. If anything is altered, there is a trail that won’t show in the portal, but the IT team can find it, with the time, date, and name of who made changes. (more on this when we get to the part about her Friend).
A week and a half has passed. I reach back out to Terrell in Risk Management. She picks up the phone, I identify myself, she says she’s in a meeting, will call back.
I found a therapist to deal with the emotional part of what was going on. I could not focus on any other part of my life. I was crying, I was trying to write, I had zero self esteem, I bought a lot of hats, I sent a letter to my agent and manager to not send any on-camera auditions. That part really hurt. I was finally booking beauty ads and TV shows. It is very hard for a blind/low vision person, or anyone with a visible disability to get hired. Way back when I worked in healthcare, I was a comedian and performer at night. It was my dream, but being a single mom, I kept it as a hobby. Once my vision loss progressed, it was nearly impossible to get a job anywhere – not on my end, but by employers with a stigma around disability. The beauty of it was, I could finally work in the field I loved, which is performing. My heart began to sing. Until the day I gave my trust to Roxana Moayer. My song is now on pause, hopefully only temporarily. My advocacy for the disabled community is on pause. Advertising my career and my brand is on pause. I don’t feel confident to show my face. It’s hard enough to look in the mirror. I’ve gone to Sephora to see if any type of contour can mask a severe C-shaped deformity. The more the swelling has dissipated, the worse the appearance gets. I’ll save the rest for my therapist. Let’s get back on track here.
I reach out to Risk Management once again, crying, wanting help, and get her voicemail. I leave a voicemail to Please call me back. Let me know something. I feel like you’ve all just silenced me. No Reply.
My 3-month postop was still scheduled for March 10th, 2023. I didn’t want to see that woman, but I was certainly going to go and let her see my nose and try to deny not putting cartilage on the wrong side. Maybe she will finally admit it and offer some solution, even if it’s down the road. The night before, I had two voicemails from her office. They canceled my appointment. “Mix-up in the schedule”. I jump on the portal, message her stating that I would like to be worked in soon. I’m having some issues with my nose. No Reply.
I call the scheduling center the next day and reschedule.
By this time, I’m paying attention to the functional aspect. The second opinions kept asking, but I’d been so focused on the wrong side, that I thought waking up all night was the stress and the pain. Now both sides are blocked. The right with all the ‘stuff’ in there. The dryness where she ‘removed the tissue under the nasal lining’? as it states in the discharge summary. And the left passage is bent more than ever. If you thought I described it as being blocked before, it’s a hell of a lot worse now.
The right side redness was getting darker, the skin was hot, the pain was intense and I went to see one of the second opinions I had seen earlier. He suggested nonsurgical Vivair treatment, which would shrink the tissues under the left, to possibly help air flow. This is also found in the tech part of the Op Note, as heat ablation. She did this to me. But where? He also suggested a closed procedure by rasping the right cartilage down, to try and make it somewhat balanced with the left. Of note, this physician is on my insurance list. Both times he charged me his $250 cosmetic surgery consult fee, although I was there to see if I had infection or was rejecting the cartilage. The notes read as if I’m inquiring about a cosmetic procedure.
By March 20, 2023, three months after the surgery, I find an email address for the Dean of Keck USC, Carolyn Metzler, and reach out. She asked if I’d gone to Risk Management. She gave me hope. She was going to talk to some of the staff and see what she could do. Finally!
Ironically, the following day Terrell in Risk Management called to ask if I got her letter. There was no letter. She then emailed me a falsified document on letterhead titled Grievance Resolution stating that “Doctor Moayer does not use markers” (tell that to Joint Commission), and that I’m concerned about cosmetics and Doctor Moayer had told me several times this is not a cosmetic procedure, it’s for breathing. She did nothing wrong. Case closed. I reply back, asking isn’t someone going to see me? Physical evidence? No reply. This, my friends, is gaslighting at its finest. Again, they never addressed my asking about the wrong side surgery. Nor did they mention why the op note says a different type of graft than planned. Or why all the notes from different employees in the OR vary.
I’m feeling helpless. I reach out to Metzler, the dean, again. Was she checking with her staff to have someone see me? No reply.
And what now, you wonder? The night before the rescheduled 3-month postop, which would be super uncomfortable at this point, I look in the portal to confirm the correct time of my appointment. It’s been canceled. The following morning, I call Moayer’s office and ask why. These were prepaid by insurance and this is part of my treatment. My postoperative care. The office manager will call me back, they say. No reply.
It felt like USC and Moayer saw me as nothing. No one. Like I am the least of their concern – although it felt also like Moayer was hoping for the 1-year mark so she doesn’t get a malpractice suit.
Now, I’m frantically trying to get help, because USC Keck is not here for me, and at this point, I wouldn’t trust them if they offered it. I was calling loads of attorneys to be told ‘a nose case is hard to win, but you’ve got a great malpractice case. I encourage you to keep looking…’. Some would take it, but I needed to put up $80,000 first. This, I feel, USC knew would be even harder for me.
In April, I see Dr. A. “This is a legal situation, and I don’t want to get involved, but I can open it up in an couple weeks and see what we can do about it”. He mentioned a left batten graft being helpful. No way in hell would I even allow God to operate on my nose four months after this monstrosity, but with a strategy, I said I’d consider it, but asked him to order some imaging studies first, please. He emailed orders for a CT and MRI. I went to one location and had them done, then I went to another facility and had them repeated. And once more.
‘The Friend’. On May 2, 2023, I went to see a young ENT/reconstructive guy, Dr. R, from a different teaching hospital. My alma mater, which I felt good about. This guy was great. At one point, he mentioned he did a fellowship(?) with Moayer and Dr. #1, which felt a bit awkward. He did the most thorough exam of any second opinion so far. Plus, he’s the only one who understood putting proper lighting in the exam room. He saw everything. He went into great detail of his findings, suggested adding a left batten graft, rasping down the right hump, and threw in other things that were cosmetic, and was unsure of what the bump/stitch on top could be. He looked at downloads of the MRI and CT I had in my phone, and immediately pointed out an implant on the right side. I’d never heard of it, so I typed it into my phone’s Notes and bookmarked a google search, so I wouldn’t forget. I asked if he would be interested in reading my full CT and MRI for a stipend. He agreed. I was considering coming back to him to clean up this mess, once my year of healing was over. This guy seemed to know his stuff.
A few days later, I look in the portal to download his Note, and it said NONE for Imaging. I message him to ask if he’d add the right implant he saw on my phone. His reply, “yes, no problem. However, I accidentally deleted the report. Did you download it?” Now, for a physician to be asking me such a no-brainer as this, it felt like his account must be hacked. “Um, is there a Trash? Or can you Undo?” This all seemed way to hard for him and he would talk to I.T. May 12th, I reach out again. No reply.
I went to see Dr. #1, to get his feedback on all of this. He knew what my nose was like before any of it. Focusing on the left side, “It looks exactly the same!” He seemed shocked. I first ask about the ‘stitch’ bump on top. He presses around on it and it hurts like hell. He thinks it might be a corner of some cartilage? I began to talk about the right side. It felt as if he were minimizing everything that came out of my mouth and immediately defending her. I felt like I couldn’t say anything else without crying. I told him I’d seen Dr. R, and felt like he really knew his stuff. He almost rolled his eyes and said there’s no way he could fix this. He mentioned I still have a stitch in the front, deep in there, but I’d need to go back to the surgeon who put it in, to remove it. I went home and cried more. What am I going to do?
The following week, I saw a well-seasoned gent, whose reviews mention his kind, caring demeanor. I needed this. He had a heart to heart, said he realizes everything that has happened, and called it out. He actually saw more than I did. He took a handheld mirror, held it above my head, and told me to hold it there and look up. The entire outline of the cartilage was a white triangle that began at that ‘stitch/bump’ on top of my nose and went over the right side. He walked around the room for a minute. My jaw dropped. “Wait – what is – did you see this? This white part? Like a triangle?”. He just nodded. “That’s the cartilage, isn’t it?” He nodded and took the mirror. He took photos of the cartilage. He then explained why no doctor wants to get involved in medical malpractice situations. It involves a deposition and having to testify in court against other professionals in your community. It will be hard to find someone unless you go through an attorney. I asked him about Dr. R’s suggested surgery. He told me he cannot fix it, in the same tone Dr #1 used. He said my nose is severely deformed and suggested only three men in the United States who could correct this, and there is now chance of necrosis, which means decaying of the skin. And what about the bump on top? Can it be removed without surgery? No. As you can imagine, I went home and cried more.
I reach out to Dr. R, to see if IT found my report. He said we’d need to re-do it as a video visit. How is he going to examine me via video? When the VV finally happens, he’s short, to the point, and before ending the call, I ask how much is his stipend and how would he prefer I send the imaging studies? “I know Dr. Moayer, and if I find she did something wrong, I’m NOT going to put it in a report, so if you pay me to read your imaging, you’re just wasting your money. If you want me to do your surgery, I’ll do it”.
At this moment, I feel like this entire system is a hoax. It’s them against us. Yes, I cried harder. I felt lost. I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone in the Los Angeles healthcare community at this point. They have each other’s backs, not the patient’s. The Dr. God complex. I worked with physicians for 15+ years, and I’ve dated several physicians in the past. They are just like any of us, have flaws, and insecurities. They are not geniuses. There are other professions that go thru school just as long or longer. They merely studied a particular subject to learn a great deal about it, just like a history professor can tell you everything about history, which would put me to sleep. There are other professions that help people closely and intimately, that don’t require as much training. My point – a lot of fellow humans with an MD behind their name need to hop off their high horse.
I’ve downloaded the changing versions of Dr. R’s report of my first visit. First, he had deleted all text and placed an ‘a’. The bottom is electronically stamped “Printed by Dr. R” with the date and time. That was it. Then there was a version with an ADDENDUM below with the new video visit, that had no details like the first one originally had. I looked again one day, and he had copy and pasted the video visit into the original date of the office visit and deleted out the ‘a’. Although, he’d forgotten to delete something mentioned in the report that it was limited due to video visit. What a mess. This was all crafted after I’d called Patient Compliance to look into finding the original.
Searching for an Expert Opinion, I find an ENT surgeon who is also an expert opinion guy. This is golden! Except that he has offices in LA. The Physician’s Assistant was very thorough, seemed to find the things I was there for, but needed the doctor to go over it. I assumed the PA had relayed this info to the doctor, so when he enters, he’s all about, I’m not getting involved in a malpractice situation. He knows a lot of the names I’ve seen. He says he won’t operate on it but suggests a few people. Then he proceeds to say, “let it go. She did a bad job. Big deal. Move on. Do you know how many people have tried to sue me? It’s a real headache”. I didn’t ask if those cases were unsatisfied patients or if it were because he carelessly performed surgery on the wrong side. Big difference.
The bump on top, be it a stitch or cartilage, hurts. If my sunglasses or mask touch it, it hurts. Not like a bruise, more like a pebble under my skin. When I wash my face or apply moisturizer, I have to barely pass over that spot. There is a valley above it, or an indention. No one seems to agree on what this could be. The person who would know, is in hiding. The right side where the big cartilage is, still hurts. I wake with it hurting. I feel things going on in there when I’m lying in bed. I get a pinhole size of air passage via the left nostril, and the right is so jacked that I can’t even explain. Dry as a bone, and I get air passage if I lay on that side. I’m not sleeping well. On top, a dark, dark shade of red covers the right bridge, which is hot. Concealer and contour makes things appear worse – and try mimicing a makeup tutorial when you’re vision impaired. You can run your finger down the middle, and the left side drops off, as the right bulges out. Before the tip, the left side dives in, whereas the right doesn’t, but it swoops toward the left. The skin on top is so thin now and my entire nose feels like bone (really cartilage). If the tip touches anything, it’s just like a bone touching it. This is the current status of my nose. I really need help.
In July I filed two mediations – one for Moayer with a mega list of errors. One for USC for their noncompliance. I was hoping at least, they would negotiate and offer to pay for the next surgery. Shocker, they both refused to participate.
I reached out to the City Civil Rights Department who said this is not a civil rights case. I reached out to the California Department of Public Health, who quoted the USC Risk Management letter and ‘didn’t find that she did anything wrong’. They’d told me up front that two RNs and a ‘USC Expert Physician‘ would be reviewing my case. However, no one spoke to me, examined my nose, or asked for any of my imaging or outside info. Although, I begged them to.
The day after, I spontaneously receive a letter from a Beta Healthcare Group, who turns out to be USC’s insurer, saying that they found she did nothing wrong. I asked each of these organizations if they will look at my physical evidence, expert opinions, imaging studies, photos? Interview ME? No replies. They seem to find it not wrong that her report states she placed a different type of graft on the left side without a marker. I filed with the California Medical Board, and the Department of Consumer Affairs, as well as the Joint Commission. Now, if they don’t take action, the entire medical system is a fraud.
I’ve seen several other opinions in LA not worth mentioning. Just money hungry men wanting to get their scalpel in me. I also saw one of the ‘three experts in the US’, the one who is in California, and known world-wide. He suggested major reconstruction. He looked at my imaging studies, and we’ll leave it at that.
All of this could have been avoided, had Roxana Moayer, 3 weeks postop, chose not to abandon patient care and admitted she made a mistake and ‘here’s what we can and cannot do, moving forward’. She could have helped with some of this pain and suffering. She made a choice. That choice was to hide.
Now, I’ve had to round up a team moving forward.
To Be Continued…Stay tuned for Part 3